More

The U.S. got a human rights report card from the rest of the world. They think we can do better.

The challenge to improve is coming even from some of the most repressive countries in the world.

The U.S. got a human rights report card from the rest of the world. They think we can do better.

Every four years, each one of the 134 member countries in the United Nations gets a human rights review. The U.S. just had its turn.

Images from U.N. Web TV.


At a hearing held May 11, 2015, 117 of the member nations spoke up. Each representative got only 65 seconds to speak, but it still added up to about three and a half hours of statements.

Guess what? The United States did not get a glowing review.

Nations repeatedly called out the U.S. for police violence and especially systemic racial discrimination by the police. Many of them also identified the continued use of the death penalty as a human rights concern as well as the ongoing operations at Guantánamo Bay. (In its previous review in 2010, the U.S. committed to “find a solution for all persons detained at Guantánamo Bay" — yet as of January 2015, 122 men are still kept at the facility.)

There's something deeply disturbing about countries often considered to be repressive or violent holding up a human rights mirror for the U.S. to look into.

Here's a quick paraphrasing:

Egypt: "Investigate excessive use of force by police and put an end to such practices. ... Abolish practices that target Muslim minorities at airports and that criminalize homelessness."

Chad: "Chad considers the United States of America to be a country of freedom, but recent events targeting black sectors of society have tarnished its image."

China: "Recommends addressing the root cause of racial discrimination and eliminating the frequently occurring excessive law enforcement against ... minorities. Stop massive surveillance activities both inside and outside its territories to avoid violating the right to privacy of its citizens."

Pakistan: "We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in the U.S. and make the following recommendations. ... Use armed drones within existing international legal regimes. End police brutality against African-Americans and rectify the systems that systematically discriminate against them. Prosecute all CIA operatives held responsible for torture. Combat Islamophobia and racial profiling."

North Korea: We are gravely concerned at the U.S. violations of human rights and recommend that the U.S. investigate CIA torture crimes, take measures to investigate civilian killings during the military invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq ... and take measures against racial discrimination.

There's lots more. You can listen to it yourself here.

OK, so maybe it's a bit ironic to have personal freedom protections questioned by North Korea. But country after country echoed the same concerns:

  • Systematic abuse of police power especially against minorities and people of color
  • Continued use of the death penalty
  • Failure to close the Guantánamo Bay facility
  • Inadequate protections for migrant workers and indigenous people

At least 36 of the 117 nations criticized the continued use of the death penalty and especially the disproportionate number of African-Americans sentenced to die.

It's a bad report card to say the least. The rest of the world is saying to the "home of the free": You can do a whole lot better. Don't you agree?

True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Sir David Attenborough has one of the most recognized and beloved voices in the world. The British broadcaster and nature historian has spent most of his 94 years on Earth educating humanity about the wonders of the natural world, inspiring multiple generations to care about the planet we all call home.

And now, Attenborough has made a new name for himself. Not only has he joined the cool kids on Instagram, he's broken the record for reaching a million followers in the shortest period. It only took four hours and 44 minutes, which is less time than it took Jennifer Aniston, who held the title before him at 5 hours and 16 minutes.

A day later, Attenborough is sitting at a whopping 3.4 million followers. And he only has two Instagram posts so far, both of them videos. But just watch his first one and you'll see why he's attracted so many fans.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


There are very few people who have had quite as memorable a life as Arnold Schwarzenegger. His adult life has played out in four acts, with each one arguably more consequential than the last.

And now Schwarzenegger wants to play a role in helping America, his adopted home, ensure that our 2020 election is safe, secure and available to everyone willing and able to vote.

Shortly after immigrating to America, Schwarzenegger rose up to become the most famous bodybuilder in history, turning what was largely a sideshow attraction into a legitimate sport. He then pivoted to an acting career, becoming Hollywood's highest paid star in a run that spanned three decades.


Keep Reading Show less

One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less